Friday, September 19, 2008

Wyeth v. Levine Background

Adam Liptak's article in the New York Times today describes the key people involved in Wyeth v. Levine, the pre-emption case that could change the face of mass torts. Here's a short excerpt:

In the spring of 2000, suffering from a migraine, Ms. Levine visited a clinic near here for a treatment she had received many times: Demerol for the pain and Wyeth’s drug Phenergan for nausea.

“Nothing wrong with either drug,” Ms. Levine said. “They’re both safe when given the right way.”

But if Phenergan is exposed to arterial blood, it causes swift and irreversible gangrene. For that reason, it is typically administered by intramuscular injection. According to Ms. Levine’s lawyers, using an intravenous drip is almost entirely safe as well.

This time, though, a physician’s assistant used a third method. She injected the drug into what she thought was a vein, a method known as “IV push.” But the assistant apparently missed.

In the following weeks, Ms. Levine’s hand and forearm turned purple and then black, and they were amputated in two stages.


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